Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

March 23, 2011
Doolittle Raiders spent time in both Sacramento and Willows

Hornet CV8 - DR B-25 launch 80-G-330672.jpgAs every WWII history buff knows, the USS Hornet aircraft carrier (CV-8) is famous for its role in a daring bombing raid on Tokyo lead by Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle early in the war. But did you know that 22 of the B-25 "Mitchell" bombers spent time at the Sacramento Air Depot being modified for the April 1942 mission? Now there's recently uncovered evidence that some of the planes were flown to Willows for further practice after their overhaul in Sacramento.

According to Bob Fish, a Trustee at the USS Hornet Museum, a May 1942 report by Navy Lt. Henry L. Miller clearly states that he trained Army flight crews in "short-field take-off technique" at the airfield in Willows. Attached is a copy of Miller's declassified report and Fish's background memo.

Thumbnail image for Hornet - DR carrier launch practice Stork.jpgThis year is the 69th anniversary of the Doolittle raid. There are only five Raiders still alive. The annual Doolittle Raider's reunion will be held in Omaha, April 14-17. The USS Hornet Museum in Alameda will commemorate the Doolittle Raid on April 16 (press release).

Incidentally, the USS Hornet (CV-12) berthed in Alameda is the successor to the carrier that launched the Tokyo bombing run. The latter warship was sunk at the Battle of Santa Cruz in Oct. 1942. The former is famous not only for distinguished service during WWII, but also for recovering the Apollo 11 space crew that made the first landing on the Moon in 1969.

This Hornet now serves as a museum at the former naval station in Alameda. The ship is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. Visitors are welcome to explore parts of the ship on their own or with a guided tour.

PHOTO CREDIT: USS Hornet (CV-8) launches a B-25 bomber (top). A B-25 practices a short-field takeoff (bottom). Photos courtesy of Bob Fish.

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About Sac History Happenings

California and Sacramento have a long, rich, vibrant history. And our region is blessed with an abundance of historical resources maintained by museums, libraries, archives and societies. This blog aims to alert readers to the latest developments in local/state historical education and research.

Send tips concerning upcoming exhibits, tours, lectures and meetings, as well as new books, magazine articles and online collections to the blog's contributors.

The Contributors:

Michael Dolgushkin

Michael Dolgushkin is Manuscript Librarian at the California State Library History Section. He is co-author of San Francisco's California Street Cable Cars and is a frequent contributor to the California State Library Foundation Bulletin. Contact him at

Amanda Graham

Amanda Graham is a Certified Archivist working in the Sacramento Room of the Sacramento Public Library. She earned a BS in History from Southern Oregon University and a MS in Information Studies with an emphasis in archives from The University of Texas at Austin. Contact her at

Pete basofin

Pete Basofin is Director of Editorial Research at The Sacramento Bee. He previously worked at The St. Petersburg Times and Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune. Contact him at

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